CONGRESS was urged to hasten the convening of a Constituent Assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution that would clear the way to federalism, especially now that President Rodrigo Duterte has renewed his pitch to speed up the shift in the system of government.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte stressed the need for the Senate and the House of Representatives need to craft new provisions in the Constitution specifying the federal switch in time for a plebiscite that would be held either alongside the midterm elections in 2019 or the 2020 at the latest.
Villafuerte said Duterte has renewed his call for this government switch during a speech before the launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other conflict affected areas in Mindanao in Cotabato City.
“Holding the plebiscite along with the elections either in 2019 or 2020 is not only the most economical but also the soonest time we can let the people decide on federalism while giving the Congress ample time to deliberate and finetune the provisions that would ensure the shift would lead to growth and prosperity in the regions,” said Villafuerte, vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations.
Villafuerte was referring to the 2019 senatorial and local elections and the second synchronized elections of village and youth officials on the Duterte watch due in 2020 as specified under the newly-enacted Republic Act 10923.
RA 10923 deferred the village and SK polls originally scheduled on Oct. 31 this year to the fourth Monday of October 2017 and subsequently, to the second Monday of May 2020 and every three years thereafter.
The federal system of government, Villafuerte said, is a surefire measure to realize the Duterte administration’s vision of transforming the Philippines into a high middle income country over the next six years and then into a high income economy 24 years from now, because this system is the best way to disperse incomes and spread growth beyond Mega Manila and across the countryside.
“Federalism will redistribute the national wealth outside Metro Manila, where our natural resources abound,” said Villafuerte, who had steered the rise of CamSur into a robust growth and tourism center on his watch as three-term governor.
“This setup will lead to genuine industrial and agricultural growth because LGUs would have more power to manage their funds and resources, instead of merely waiting for so-called ‘Imperial Manila’ to give the go-signal on how they could spend their share of government revenues,” he added.